HL Deb 24 January 1983 vol 438 cc117-8WA
Lord Gridley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Home Secretary will publish the recommendations of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis in his report on his problems and priorities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Elton)

On 1st October 1982, as Police Authority for the Metropolitan Police, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary invited the commissioner on taking up his office to give him within three months a preliminary report, outlining his plans and priorities. He asked the commissioner, in determining his objectives and priorities, to give particular attention to the present high level of crime, including street crime and burglary; the problems of maintenance of public order in the capital; community involvement; and the organisation and structure of the force. The commissioner was fully aware that my right honourable friend wished his assessment to take place against the objective of improving police effectiveness in the metropolis, and of ensuring that the resources now allocated to the Metropolitan Police were thoroughly reviewed and properly utilised.

The commissioner has presented his report to the Home Secretary, who has given it careful study, and fully discussed his proposals with him. The Home Secretary has thought it right to place in the Library the commissioner's summary of the recommendations and of the arguments which give rise to them.

My right honourable friend believes that the commissioner's proposals, and the action that will follow, will respond to the primary concerns of the majority of the people who live and work in the metropolis through focusing more directly both on persistent crime problems and on improving co-operation between police and public.

The commissioner has emphasised to the Home Secretary that his report is preliminary, and that it is not comprehensive. His proposals represent a programme of selective action for the next twelve months, and in implementing them he and my right honourable friend look forward to taking account of the views of noble Lords and honourable Members in another place, especially those with constituencies in the metropolis. From my right honourable friend's discussions with a number of honourable Members in another place, already he is confident that the commissioner's present proposals are attuned very much to their constituents' practical concerns. The same message came from the majority of local authority representatives in the Home Secretary's recent discussions with the London Boroughs Association and the Outer Districts Consultative Association.

The commissioner intends to present to the range of consultative groups which have been, and which are being, set up in response to the guidelines the Home Secretary issued on 16th June, specific proposals for action in their areas. He and my right honourable friend look forward to the engagement of these and other local groups in practical proposals for joint action on the ground.

The Home Secretary has indicated to the commissioner that he will be able to count on building up Metropolitan Police manpower by the end of the financial year 1983–84 to a total establishment figure of nearly 27,000. With the department there will be, during the course of this year, a thorough review of manpower and expenditure. This work will be done against the essential policy requirement that resources should only be increased where both the need for them, and their value in use, is proven.

My right honourable friend accepts the commissioner's decision to tackle the managerial and organisational arrangements of the Metropolitan Police very deliberately. Again, in conjunction with the department, the force's rank structure and the relationship of headquarters and districts will be thoroughly re-examined in the light of the operational policies that the commissioner proposes to adopt. In discussing his report with the commissioner, the Home Secretary has emphasised the need for the closest possible co-operation between the Metropolitan Police Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The commissioner, and the Home Secretary are both determined to ensure that whatever criticisms may be levelled at particular aspects of metropolitan policing, London is provided with a programme of effective law enforcement, springing from close community involvement and consultation. My right honourable friend has asked the commissioner to review annually the objectives and priorities of the force in the light of his assessment of the needs of the people who live and work in London, the views of Parliament, of the boroughs and districts who pay the precept, and against the background of general Government policy. He will report to my right honourable friend annually with any proposals for change, and his recommendations will be made public in future.